Employee at Azure crane collapse pleads guilty, testifies against boss

October 27, 2011 10:13AM

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The crane collapse at the Azure and New York Crane owner James Lomma
An employee of New York Crane, the company that operated the crane that collapsed at the Azure in 2008, plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide and agreed to testify against the owner of the company to avoid a second-degree manslaughter charge that carries a 15-year prison sentence.

According to court documents obtained by the New York Times, Tibor Varganyi was charged with finding a manufacturer to repair the turntables of some of New York Crane’s equipment. He chose a firm in China over two United States companies, because New York Crane owner James Lomma thought the domestic companies couldn’t complete the job fast enough.

Though the Chinese firm warned that it shouldn’t do the welding, Lomma and Varganyi went ahead with it anyway and never tested the weld job to ensure it was safe, according to testimony. A crack in the weld caused the crane to collapse at 333 East 91st Street. Lomma faces charges of second-degree manslaughter, assault, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

“In the end, the evidence will demonstrate that no one at New York Crane, including Mr. Varganyi, violated any criminal laws,” Lomma’s lawyer said. [NYT]